The importance of creating a diverse workplace

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Jane Ryan, chief operating officer of B2B at Nektan, on why the igaming industry needs to adapt to modern trends to plug the gender gap

Jane Ryan, chief operating officer of B2B at Nektan, on why the igaming industry needs to adapt to modern trends to plug the gender gap.

For years the igaming industry has acknowledged it needs to do more to create a diverse working environment. In recent years, there has been more emphasis on increasing the number of women holding senior positions across the board.

The reality, however, is that we are still some way from achieving the ambition of gender diversity, as well as from hiring individuals from all different cultural backgrounds. 

It’s something I’ve experienced first-hand, having worked in the industry since 2002. At that time there were a lot of young female employees but very few at higher levels. And of the former female colleagues I’ve worked alongside, very few of them still work at all due to the challenges faced when bringing up children while holding down a senior role in the gaming industry.

Since then, the industry has moved slowly in the right direction and changes can be seen when attending the various boardroom meetings and walking down the aisles of trade exhibitions.

Nowadays, you can pretty much guarantee that not only will there be a handful of strong, successful women at the table but no white, male counterpart would dare make outdated remarks.

However, that’s not to say the problem has been totally eradicated, as old habits die hard.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in positions of power in the business world. Only 6.4% of full-time executive roles at FTSE 250 companies are held by woman, according to analysis from Cranfield University as part of its 20th FTSE Women on Boards Report in 2018.

Investing in social diversity isn’t just about doing the right thing, it’s about driving a change that’s long overdue and one that will benefit us all, both socially and financially.

There are often clear reasons why women leave the workforce, but this doesn’t need to be the case. By taking a flexible approach to diversity, we can hopefully improve those figures somewhat.

At Nektan, we have a strong female workforce in a number of key positions, including our chief executive officer, Lucy Buckley, who joined the organisation at the end of last year. Our flexible approach to working hours means we are not only an attractive place to work, but we can also retain female workers should their personal circumstances change.

As the company’s COO of our B2B division, I am actively engaged in encouraging flexible working. I endeavour to work from home one or two days a week in order to spend time with my family. As a leader, it’s important to demonstrate the successes of flexible working, while still being able to play a pivotal role within the organisation. 

The great gender divide is something that needs solving sooner rather than later, especially as it poses a threat in our ambitions to attract the very best talent to the industry.

Recruiting new talent is becoming increasingly difficult, such is the competition we’re facing from other fast-growing and exciting technology areas, including the telecommunications, engineering and automotive industries.

Offering more money isn’t always the answer. We need to have inclusive strategies by bringing in new organisational practices, as well as making cultural changes that allow for flexible working to attract a variety of talent, from different backgrounds and walks of life. In doing so, we will be fostering a culture of acceptance, resulting in a wealth of knowledge sharing, that we, as an industry that relies on innovation, can tap into.

For the igaming industry to grow and introduce innovative ideas, it needs to adapt to a changing society, inclusive of all genders, races, sexual and religious orientations.

Not only will diversity help our internal effectiveness, it will also make us more attractive to a diverse audience of customers, which in an increasingly competitive market place, has to be our ultimate goal.

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